Driving up, down or wherever to spend your first Christmas with your partner and their family - or introducing them to your lot - is a daunting prospect. Your mind will likely be running through the ′what if’ scenarios: will your little brother decide to bring up your ex? Will your overly enthusiastic auntie terrify them? What if their mum hates the type of wine you’ve bought and it sits in her cupboard for years, a relic of your bad taste?
Which makes sense. This is a biggie, after all. Here’s how you’ll know that you’re ready to take on your first festive season à deux - and, fingers crossed, be more sanguine about the whole thing.
You know that you are the one and only
If you’ve not been going out long, if she’s still taking calls from her ex or if you feel open to dates with other people, you’re not ready to meet each other’s relatives. You need to feel secure in your relationship. “You should be in a mutually exclusive relationship to be ready to meet your partner’s family,” says sex and relationship expert Lianne Young. If you don’t think that your relationship is going to last long-term, turn down that family Christmas invite.
You’re pretty certain that you have a future together
“If you regularly talk about your future together, that’s the first sign that you are ready to introduce your partner to your family or to meet your partner’s family,” says Young. If you’re planning holidays a year from now, if you’ve moved in together or discussed the possibility of doing so, or even talked about the big ones: marriage and/or kids, you know that your relationship is going somewhere - and spending your first family Christmas together is one of those big steps you need to take along the way.
You hang out with each other’s friends
A long-term relationship is about more than just the two of you. You need to feel part of each other’s social groups. Most people meet their partner’s friends before they meet their families, says Young. It demonstrates that you want to be a part of each other’s lives. “Before spending a big family Christmas together, it’s important to have met each others friends and maybe have been introduced to your respective siblings too,” she says.
Spending time with siblings and old friends of your partner will help you both get a feeling for what your families are like, as well as give you an inkling of what to expect when you do get to meet the parents. You don’t want to arrive unprepared.
You know what the deal is with their family dynamic
“In the run up to the big first Christmas, ask each other lots of questions about each of your families,” says Young. “Even ask about what happened when previous partners met your family.” By doing your research beforehand, you should build up a fairly accurate picture of their likes and dislikes and be less likely to say the wrong thing on December 25th. And, if someone does say something that is likely to cause embarrassment to you or your partner, you might already know that it may be on the cards and have a ready-made diffusion line, like ‘oh I’ve heard that story already.’ This can help you to dial down any potential hostility.